• Shruti GOCHHWAL

Infective Endocarditis- Causes and Treatments

Infective endocarditis is a condition in which the bacteria enter the bloodstream and infect heart valves and the lining of the heart chambers. It is a serious condition that requires immediate medical condition as the patient is at risk of severe complications such as stroke and heart failure.

A person suffering from chest pain

it is caused by bacteria, Credits: Pixabay


Symptoms of Infective Endocarditis

The following are the common symptoms: 

  1. Pain in chest

  2. Skin rash usually red in colour

  3. Swollen joints

  4. Body pain

  5. Tiredness

  6. Breathing difficulty

  7. The appearance of white spots inside the

  8. Blood in urine

  9. Chills

  10. Fever

  11. Headache

Causes of Infective Endocarditis

An injection

It can spread through IV drug abuse, Credits: pikrepo


It occurs when harmful germs enter the bloodstream and reach the heart. The causes are categorised based on the activities which are likely to result in it.

Using a Catheter: A catheter is a device which is passed through the urinary bladder as an outlet for urine. It is attached to patients who are admitted to hospitals. Long term use of catheters can lead to infections such as the one in question. It is advised to regularly change catheters to avoid infections.

Through the Oral Route: Bacteria usually enter the body through the mouth. They can do this through eatables and also during other activities such as brushing your teeth.

Body Piercings: Body piercing requires a medical-grade needle to be used on a body part. However, these needles are usually not handled by trained experts. Unsanitized needles can be a route for harmful bacteria to enter the bloodstream.

Injectable Drug Use: Like body piercings, illegal injectable drugs users also utilise unsanitized needles. They often use the same needle on multiple people which makes infection more likely.

Dental Treatment: During dental treatments, if cuts are made on the gums then they can allow bacteria to enter the blood circulation and do damage.

Who is More Likely to Develop Infective Endocarditis?

A person with multiple piercings

Piercings can cause infections, Credits: piqsels


Certain population groups are more likely to develop this disease. They are:

Previously Suffers: The disease damages the heart and it continues to remain relatively weak after treatment as well. Once you suffer from it, you are more likely to relapse again.

Activities Involving Unsanitized Needles: People who engage in activities which involve unhygienic needles are more likely to suffer from infectious diseases. These activities include tattoo making and piercing.

Heart Conditions: Conditions such as congenital heart disease and damaged heart valves weaken the heart which makes it easier for bacteria to infect the heart.

Infective Endocarditis Treatment

A person getting dental treatment

Dental procedures are subject to infections, Credits: Pxhere


The endocarditis treatment needs to be immediate and hospitalisation is necessary. Seeking immediate medical help is important. Treatments involve two steps:

Antibiotics: For the duration of your stay in the hospital IV antibiotics will be administered to fight the infection. Once a patient is deemed healthy enough to be discharged, oral antibiotics are prescribed to continue to manage the infection.

Ampicillin, Gentamicin and Ceftrixone are commonly used.

Surgery: In severe cases, surgery is required to treat the heart valves. Heart valves can be repaired or replaced depending upon the extent of the damage. However, this is a complicated and risky procedure that is done only in select places.

Libman Sacks Endocarditis

Libman Sacks endocarditis or non-bacterial thrombotic endocarditis is a rare condition in which endocarditis like vegetations is formed on the heart valves. This condition occurs as the cardiac manifestation of systemic lupus erythematosus, It is an autoimmune disease.

As it is a symptom of a disease, the treatment focuses on treating systemic lupus erythematosus.

Infective Endocarditis Prophylaxis

Infective endocarditis prophylaxis is an antibiotic therapy which is used to prevent the disease. The basis for this therapy is that it should be given to high-risk patients.

An example of using this therapy is to give antibiotics to a patient who has congenital heart disease before a dental procedure. In theory, this option is correct. However, during the last decade, antibiotic resistance due to the overuse of antibiotics has been a major concern. To battle antibiotic resistance this therapy is used very rarely these days.

Takeaway 

Infective endocarditis requires treatment. If you notice any of the above-mentioned symptoms then consult a doctor immediately. In addition to that, if you are at high risk of developing it then you need to be aware of the disease and take preventive measures. The disease is treatable if medical help is provided in time.

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